Doctors Orders | Jennifer Allan
“I can’t do this anymore…..”
I sobbed down the phone to my mum in a hospital corridor.
I don’t know.
I probably waited too long in the coffee queue.
This was my breaking point.
I’ve always been the grumpy one.
The crabbit one.
The snappy one.
The quiet one.
I thought it was just my personality.
Now, I know I was actually depressed and extremely anxious.
I brushed it off.
I was just tired.
I just wasn’t hungry.
I’d gone through a breakup.
I couldn’t sleep because I had exams or deadlines.
It was just exercise to improve my fitness.
It was drinking to have fun.
It was just palpitations from too much coffee.
It was struggling to get out of bed every day.
It was not eating at all and surviving on coffee.
It was weeks of insomnia because I couldn’t stop ruminating on worse case scenarios.
It was obsessive exercising because I hated the way I looked because my self-worth was so low.
It was drinking to gain confidence and forget how I was actually feeling but really just embarrassing myself.
It was checking the plugs and sockets for 20 minutes before I could leave the house.
It was panic attacks when I couldn’t breath and I thought I would die.
It was enjoying absolutely nothing.
It was hating myself.
It was lying in bed thinking I honestly do not want to be here anymore.
It was thinking I can’t do this anymore.
In reality, I should have known better.
I’m a doctor, I know the symptoms, I know the consequences.
But as usual, doctors make the worst patients.
In reality, the stigma around mental health is very much alive in the medical profession.
It’s frowned upon.
It’s a sign of weakness.
It makes you a less competitive candidate.
We deal with death on a daily basis.
We are participants in the worst moments of people’s lives.
We question our decisions constantly because it literally is life and death.
Doctors have some of the highest rates of suicide and the lowest rates of engagement with psychological services.
We should all know better.
That phone call was the turning point for me.
I got help.
I went to my GP.
I told my friends.
I started medication.
I started working with a PT.
I addressed my terrible relationship with food.
I still have bad days but that’s life.
But there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
And as my mum said
“You’re a nice person again”
So I guess the point of this is
Don’t be embarrassed.
Don’t be embarrassed to admit you’re struggling.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help, from your friends or a professional.
It’s a cliché but….
You wouldn’t be embarrassed about your heart attack or your diabetes.
Do not be embarrassed about your mental health.
You will come out the other side.
No matter how difficult it seems.
There is help out there.
Do not be afraid to seek it out.
If I can do it,
You can definitely do it.
Jennifer spends most of her days wishing NHS hospitals were more like Seattle Grace. Unfortunately her life as surgical trainee involves far less drama, far fewer attractive colleagues and a distinct lack of her hero Cristina Yang. She loves all things surgery related and has very strong opinions on women’s rights and equality, particularly in the world of medicine. When she’s not at work, she can be found watching serial killer documentaries, drinking coffee and/or gin, buying things she can’t afford and doesn’t need (Roomba I’m looking at you) and showing you photos of/talking constantly about her three legged shih tzu. (@tripod.archie) The infamous Archie Allan (who can tell you a thing or two about contouring thanks to his make up tutorials from Emma Auld).